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Hancock gets update on healthy eating program

September 18, 2012
By KURT HAUGLIE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - The members of the Hancock Public Schools Board of Education heard an update on the district's healthy school meal program during their regular meeting Monday.

Hancock Central High School Principal John Sanregret said the district's healthy food initiative is in response to a national effort to get schoolchildren to eat better by reducing fat, sodium and processed sugar.

"One in three children is considered overweight," he said. "One in six is obese."

Article Photos

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Members of the Hancock Public Schools Board of Education heard an update on the district’s new healthy food menu at the schools. Some students like the change to fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and others don’t.

This generation of Americans is the first expected to have a shorter lifespan than its parents, Sanregret said.

"Developing our food menu is a huge benefit to our schools," he said.

Sanregret said the program started at the end of the last school year by Renee Salani, district food service director, and Mark Pittillo, Portage Health director of food services, is getting mixed results from the students, some of whom like the changes and some don't.

"There's no question it's a change for our students," he said.

Also helping with the district's efforts to provide healthy food is Sara Salo, health education coordinator at the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department in Hancock.

Salo said the reaction from Hancock students to the changes in the school meal menus, which include fresh fruit and vegetables, is about the same as other districts.

"You're right on track with the other schools," she said. "Change takes time."

Board member Chuck Paoli said he's heard from some parents their children are coming home hungry because they won't eat the food on the new menu.

Superintendent Monica Healy said she's heard from some parents the portions of the meals are too small, but that aspect is controlled by federal regulation.

Healy said when she did an informal survey of students in the cafeteria, some said they liked the new menu and others said they didn't, but she thinks eventually most students will accept it.

"We need to give it more time," she said.

The discussion on the new school meal menu was for information only. No action was taken.

The board members discussed making a change to the district's transportation policy, also.

Gordon G. Barkell Elementary School Principal Howard Parmentier said there have been some issues regarding some children and the school buses.

"There's been a couple instances where children have been dropped off and nobody's home," he said.

Some parents have contacted him about the situation very angry, Parmentier said.

He's talked about the situation to the drivers of R&A Transportation, which contracts with the district for bus service, Parmentier said.

Parmentier said he would like to change the district policy to state if there is no one to meet a child being taken home, that child is brought back to the school until someone can be contacted.

"If we do implement this it's going to alleviate those kinds of situations," he said. "I think once it gets going, there won't be so many problems."

Healy said parents can sign a document stating their child or children should be dropped off at home even if there is no one to meet them.

Board members unanimously approved the change to the district's transportation policy to include bringing children back to school if no one is available to met them unless parents state they can be dropped off anyway.

In other business, board members:

approved the hiring of Curtis Wittenberg as the boys varsity basketball coach. Sanregret, who is also district athletic director, said Wittenberg has years of experience coaching at both the high school and university level. He's currently an assistant for Chris Salani, athletic director at Finlandia University.

approved the hiring of Carla Bekkala as a paraprofessional aide at Barkell.

approved the fifth-grade trip to Mackinac Island in June.



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